It doesn’t take a nutritionist or a doctor to know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. They help combat disease, keep us at a healthy weight, and can even affect our moods. But which of these healthful foods is best? A new study sheds light on the top ranking vegetables – check it out.
Research from William Paterson University attempted to rank fruits and vegetables according to the amount of nutrition within. In all, they list 41 “powerhouse” vegetables and fruits, scoring them according to the presence of 17 nutrients.
The produce was scored by the presence of: fiber, potassium, protein, calcium, folate, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and more.
According to the Washington Post:
“To make the study’s “powerhouse” list, the researchers calculated each fruit or vegetable’s “nutrient density” score based on the percentage of your daily need for each nutrient the food provides. (The study assumed a 2,000 calorie per day diet and 100 grams of each food.) The scores were capped to ensure that a fruit or vegetable that provides a huge amount of just a single nutrient wouldn’t receive a disproportionately high overall score.”
Study author Jennifer Di Noia, an associate professor of sociology at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, said:
“The score is a nutrient-to-calories ratio…This study is the first of its kind to define and rank powerhouse fruits and vegetables…I think the message is to encourage consumption of all of the foods [on the powerhouse list], which, by definition, are good sources of the qualifying nutrients.”
So, which earned the top spot? Spicy and super easy-to-grow watercress.
Watercress scored an even 100, with Chinese cabbage closest behind with a score of 91.99. In third place was chard (89.27), followed by beet greens (87.08), spinach (86.43), and chicory (73.36).
Fruits scored lower, with red pepper at the top (41.26), followed by pumpkin (32.23), tomatoes (20.37), and lemons (18.72). Many of these are surprising considering they aren’t the “superfruits” we are accustomed to hearing about. But, that’s largely because of the nutrients measured in this study.
Fruits like blueberries, that are considered healthiest by many, earn that spot because of their antioxidant levels. This study didn’t capture the concentration of antioxidants, however.
Lead researcher Jennifer Di Noia explained why: ”there are no uniform data on food phytochemicals and…recommended intake amounts for these compounds are lacking. So the scores are based on nutrients only.”
You can find the entire list here, on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.